Quincy Children’s Museum secures former Quincy Paper Box site for permanent location

Quincy Childrens Museum

Members of the board of directors — from left, Carrie Bellis, Randy Westerman, Will Klingner and Emily Reuschel — clap after director Amy Peters told a crowd of about 50 people that the site of the Quincy Children's Museum will be in the former Quincy Paper Box building during a gathering at the Quincy Brewing Company on Tuesday night. | David Adam

QUINCY — The progress made in the growth of the Quincy Children’s Museum brought Amy Peters to tears on Tuesday.

As she read an announcement that the museum’s permanent location will be the former Quincy Paper Box building, 230 N. Third, Peters had to take a moment to avoid letting her emotions get the best of her.

“To me, it’s just all the hard work and all the late nights and the loading and unloading and the sacrifices all coming together,” Peters said after a gathering at the Quincy Brewing Company on Tuesday night. “Having all these people who have believed in us in the same space is a true honor. Being able to see what this has all been for is … well, that’s what it’s all about.”

Owners Gingie and Gerald Holzgrafe donated the three-story building, built in 1890. The Quincy Paper Box Company created shoe boxes, candy boxes, Valentine heart boxes and other specialty boxes during its tenure in the building from 1928 to 1991. Don Weinberg, the brother of Gingie Holzgrafe, owned the building until he died in 2016.

Holzgrafe family ‘can’t wait for the doors to open’

The Holzgrafe family also made a significant financial donation to the museum to help launch renovation and fundraising efforts this spring.

“We’re very excited to do it,” said Heidi Holzgrafe, a daughter of Gingie and Gerald Holzgrafe. “It’s a building my uncle owned for quite a long time. We kind of had visions for it. Our family had mixed visions about what it would become, but we’re so excited. We can’t wait for the doors to open.”

The Quincy Children’s Museum took ownership of the property on Dec. 30. The site has two one-story attached buildings that Peters believes will be razed and used as a parking lot and an outdoor space. 

“This site was offered to us nearly a year ago,” Peters said. “As we worked through the site selection process, we kept coming back to it. A central location in town within walking distance to the Kroc Center, Washington Park and the riverfront were just a few reasons we found it to be appealing. The historic space has character, opportunity and room to grow.”

Selection of location comes year early

The concept for the museum started in 2019 when six people were named to the board of directors. The pandemic forced organizers to work on a strategic plan from home for most of 2020. They spent much of 2021 searching for 50 people or families to make a minimum $1,000 donation and 50 businesses or groups to make a minimum $2,000 donation.

Peters, the board’s first president who now is the director of the museum, also is a full-time social worker for the Quincy School District. She said in May she hoped a location of about 10,000 square feet would be selected by 2023.

Organizers are still seeking donors, but the selection of a location a year early brings more attention to the museum’s progress.

“We are at a pivotal moment for our organization,” Peters said. “We’ve gained huge support since we launched, and the most frequent question we hear is, ‘Where are you located?’ That’s followed by, ‘When are you opening?’ Maintaining programming and keeping this project moving forward are our two key areas of focus moving forward. Our community events are going to increase tenfold this year, and we have big plans for outreach efforts. Restorations and renovations come with their own set of challenges.

“It’s kind of balancing two things at once — our outreach efforts and our programming that we have right now, partnered with the eventual permanent location that now isn’t just a concept or a dream. Now it’s a reality.”

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